Moments of magnanimity and that of tranquil reflection….

Our thanks to William Horseman for allowing the publication of this crit of our concert on Saturday 8th 2018, which was prepared for publication in the Sunderland Echo :

On Saturday 8th December, the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society, conducted by David Murray, performed at the Sunderland Minster. The evening marked an important milestone for the choir who celebrate their seventieth anniversary. It also marked a closing of the centenary of WWI : war and our response to it were central themes of the evening’s programme.

The concert opened with George Butterworth’s A Shropshire Lad – “Rhapsody for Orchestra” (1912). This piece offers a stark contrast to the composer’s fate in the First World War, as a nostalgic evocation of his homeland. The orchestral colouring and sweeping melodic lines heard tonight effectively conveyed this affect to create a reverent atmosphere from the outset.

For the next piece, we were introduced to the esteemed soloists Rachel Nicholls and Mark Nathan who played the angel and poet in Gerald Finzi’s In Terra Pax (1954). The work is a setting from Robert Bridges’ poem Noel: Christmas Eve, 1913 which Finzi uses to frame St Luke’s account of the angels’ appearance to the shepherds. Rich textures were abundant in tonight’s performance with the soloists assuredly handling the words and the chorus narrating the biblical story with clarity.

Ralph Vaughan William’s elegiac Dona Nobis Pacem (1936) filled the second half and the musical quality and control which David Murray brought to it was very impressive. The ensemble remained cohesive throughout and created moments of magnanimity and that of tranquil reflection. Textural details were made very clear and the sound effectively filled the space. Nicholls’ penetratingly beautiful voice splendidly rested on the sound of the ensemble and her lyrical tones would bring the piece to a close with its impassioned plea for peace.

A very successful concert from the Bishopwearmouth Choral Society in what was a powerful evocation of the human response to the tragedies of war.